Uganda - Gulu (BOSCO)

Population facets: 

 

Partner Organization:  BOSCO Uganda

Location:  Gulu District, Uganda

Number of Students:  2 students

Dates:  Site determines dates with some flexibility and preferes a June 12, 2017 arrival.

Participation Requirements:

Language & Proficiency Requirement:  None required but students should learn basic Acholi.  While English is the language of instruction, few people in the community are able to speak English.
Gender Requirement:  None
Required Experience:  None
Major Requirement:  None required but students in computer science or electrical and mechanical engineering can utilize their skills to be of particular assistance. The availability and scope of work is proportional to and reliant on the students’ skills and abilities. Where work can be found for students of all abilities and technical backgrounds, the more extensive the students’ background with various computer systems, network systems as well as general computer science knowledge will dictate the available work for each student.
Student Minimum Age:  None
Special Requirements:  Some technical skills in information and communication technology (ICT) would be helpful.  Students should possess good verbal communication skills, good writing skills, and openness to learning from other people.  Experience or comfort teaching community groups and youth is also helpful because students could be teaching classes from 5-20 students in computer use. 
Other:  Students should have background knowledge about the recent war in northern Uganda and the current political situation. Interest in peace studies and/or or African studies would be beneficial. It is helpful if participants have already taken or plan to take an African related course prior to summer. Because students will be living with either Sisters or priests in a religious centre, students should be open to participating in the community and Catholic faith life. 

Special Training Required Prior to Summer Deployment: 

(The following sessions and workshops will be organized and provided by the ISSLP during the Spring semester. Additional training sessions may be added as needed.)

Self Defense Session
Technology training may be necessary
Meeting with U.S. BOSCO advisory board members

Site Description:  

See the official BOSCO Uganda website:  http://boscouganda.com and www.bosco-uganda.wikispaces.com 
See BOSCO Uganda ND Video: http://vimeo.com/22936783
See BOSCO Uganda’s Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/boscouganda?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

 

BOSCO Uganda (Battery Operated Systems for Community Outreach) is an NGO operating under the Archdiocese of Gulu in northern Uganda and provides innovative ICT (Information and Communication Technology) solutions using a collaborative, web-based approach to foster social and economic development in peace building in rural communities in northern Uganda.

The organization was started by a few Notre Dame alumni and is partnering with the Archdiocese to install communication systems in former Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps in war-affected northern Uganda. Specifically, BOSCO is installing solar powered PCs connected to Internet and VoIP telephony, creating a network of sites across the region in schools, health centers, NGO offices, and local government offices. BOSCO is helping to increase collaboration among service providers using these communication systems while also ending the isolation that the rural Acholi people have experienced because of the war in northern Uganda. BOSCO also implements computer training courses in the rural sites using a collaborative, "Web 2.0" model of training that emphasizes Internet use as a method for human rights monitoring, enhanced education, and more efficient access to service providers (e.g. tele-medicine).

 

Scope of Work & Responsibilities:

Notice: Scope of work may have some changes based on the needs of the partner organizations at the time of student arrival.   

2017 ISSLP interns will engage with BOSCO Uganda in the following activities:

I. Conducting IT Trainings.  A primary responsibility for each ISSLP intern will be to lead a 6-week IT course at one of BOSCO’s computer labs.  In this course, interns will instruct secondary school students and/or adults in basic computer literacy skills, including typing, word processing & using the internet to search for information.  BOSCO Uganda will provide interns with a training manual, but interns are also encouraged to develop additional training materials to facilitate their classes.

Students should inquire about and double check the IT trainings calendar upon arrival and plan their time, days, and weeks according to these trainings.

II. Research & development of “SaccoSeed” microfinance initiative

Gulu Lwak SACCO, or “Gulu People’s SACCO” is a microfinance initiative started through BOSCO’s CE3 entrepreneurship project and legally registered as a cooperative in 2015.  In this cooperative, members save their money by purchasing shares, and members can apply for loans by presenting their business plan to the group.  SaccoSeed is a set of guidelines and procedures developed by BOSCO to assist in the management and growth of savings and credit cooperatives such as Gulu Lwak SACCO.  ISSLP interns will be asked to contribute to the SaccoSeed project by conducting research & documentation on SACCO activities.

III. Special projects:  BOSCO also has several special projects under constant development.

BOSCO maintains a local intranet where users on the BOSCO network can share files and information.  Interns interested in software development may contribute to the BOSCO intranet by making modifications to BOSCO’s intranet WordPress site or installing / developing new applications for the intranet.

Students may engage in software development and marketing of EastAfricaTenders.com, a social enterprise and web application started by BOSCO members which seeks to improve governmental transparency by creating a procurement platform where companies can sign up to receive SMS notifications about public & private tenders.

Students may assist in management and software development for a joint project between BOSCO and Trocaire which seeks to strengthen legal protections for customary land rights in order to protect against predatory land grabs. In this project, GIS & web software are needed to manage a database of shapefiles defining borders of customary land areas. (See LCMT.org)

There appear to be some good potential for community-based research (CBR) and impact assessment. One idea may include a study of the establishment of IT in an African rural setting with attention on positive and negative challenges within the broader context of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) in the lens of Catholic Social Teaching. Another idea is to conduct qualitative interviews with “site managers” who are involved at ICT sites where they conduct trainings in order gather data and evidence of BOSCO’s impact. Students interested should discuss these possibilities with the U.S. BOSCO board, on-site BOSCO staff.

Students may also help in writing or researching future funding grant proposals for BOSCO-Uganda. In consultation with BOSCO staff, ISSLP students can also innovate their own projects to help BOSCO.

IV. Technical Assistance.  ISSLP interns may provide assistance to BOSCO’s technical team wherever they have relevant technical expertise. Tasks may include troubleshooting wifi connectivity problems, working with the CISCO operating system, and possibly expanding BOSCO’s network by establishing new long-range wifi links.

ISSLP 2016 worked with the technical team to establish and maintenance WiFi connectivity in Lira and nearby communities, BOSCO website work and establishing a website to track the status of borehole sites in Paimol.

An ISSLP 2014 computer science major used Perl and Bash scripts to automate the data fetching of power consumed and generated in different sites and work on a program to accept Mobile Money payments.

In 2011, ISSLP students worked with computer science interns from Gulu University on more advanced topics such as PHP and HTML and such opportunity may exist for subsequent summers. The technical team may also have special projects with which ISSLPs can assist.

IV. Those with electrical or mechanical engineering can accompany the field staff to assist with setup of long-range WiFi networks in the rural areas, equipment maintenance and installation of solar panels, battery systems, and new computers at sites in and around Gulu.  BOSCO provides training to ISSLP students to assist in their technical work.

ISSLP 2016 received training on use and set up a simple photo-voltaic system, basic networking and with other interns from Gulu and Makerere Universities set up a point to point WiFi connection. 

ISSLP 2014 and 2015 installed and serviced point-to-point antennas across northern Uganda to provide internet access to schools, seminaries, health centers, and NGOs. They also installed solar panels to run low-power PCs and connected them to the BOSCO network and internet. 

ISSLP students, with site supervisor, may visit the Uganda Martyrs Paimol wiPolo Shrine in Paimol, approximately 135 kilometers from Gulu, where BOSCO Executive Director Fr. Joe Okumu now resides.

Housing & Lodging Information:

Housing will be confirmed during the spring semester and depends on the genders of the ISSLP participants selected.  More likely options include living with either the Comboni Sisters or with the Little Sisters of Mary in their community residence, sharing a room with closet and bathroom, or in guest housing.  Another possibility could include living in the former Catechist Training Center (CTC) Guest House where students either share a room or have separate dorm style rooms with a bed, mosquito net, desk, dresser, and a full bathroom.  Meals are provided and are prepared by cooks.  There is running non-potable water but not hot water.  Electricity and internet is available but is limited by electrical shortages on a daily basis.  The BOSCO office has a generator for emergency power needs.

When visiting Fr. Joe Okumu or doing community-based research in Paimol, students will stay at the Paimol wiPolo Shrine lodging in the Shrine Guest House with similar accommodations as at the Catechist Training Center in Gulu.

For More Information:

Visit the official BOSCO Uganda website:  http://boscouganda.com
Visit BOSCO Uganda’s wikispace:  www.bosco-uganda.wikispaces.com

 

Former ISSLP Participants:

Margo Hughan ’16 (ISSLP 2014), mhughan@nd.edu – currently an ND graduate student
Annie Conover’17 (ISSLP 2015), aconove1@nd.edu 
Elle (Eleanor) Scott’17 (ISSLP 2015), escott5@nd.edu 
Caroline Trustey ’17 (ISSLP 2015), trustey.1@nd.edu 
Luke Brennan’18 (ISSLP 2016), lbrenna4@nd.edu – abroad Fall 2016
Ellen McCourt’17 (ISSLP 2016), emccour1@nd.edu – abroad Fall 2016
 
Note: Certain sites may be canceled and other sites added at any point during the selection and orientation process.